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An Amazon Alexa Skill

A Fun Project

Two years ago, I was in a team of 3 for a hackathon at school. We created an Amazon Alexa skill called BitterSweet Sounds that plays songs to enhance the bitter or sweet tastes in food that a user eats. We were inspired by this study.

Upon invoking the skill ("Open BitterSweet Sounds"), the user specifies a food that they want to hear music to (e.g, "I am going to eat " or "I made ", etc.). Alexa then lists the ingredients of the given food and asks the user to choose an ingredient to enhance the flavor of. The user then selects an ingredient and a matching song begins to play.

Aligning with other research, the associations between flavor and music are listed below:

  • Sweet: rich tones, upbeat, high-pitched, flute, piano
  • Bitter: deep tones, low-pitched, somber, brass

Link to Code

BitterSweet Sounds


BitterSweet Music is an Amazon Alexa skill that plays songs that enhance either the bitter or sweet tastes in the food that a user is eating. The user tells Alexa what he/she is eating and Alexa will identify the ingredients in the food, allow the user to choose one, and play a song that either complements the bitter taste of a bitter ingredient or complements the sweet taste of a sweet ingredient.

Music's Affect on Taste

Multiple studies support tha claim that music and sounds can influence the way that something tastes. A prominent researcher on the subject, Oxford psychology professor Charles Spence, in his publiation entitled The Influence of Auditory Cues on the Perception of, and Responses to, Food and Drink claims that high-pitched music is often associated with sweet and sour tastes therefore listening to it while eating will enhance the sweet/sour tastes. Low-pitched notes…

How we built it

We used Python, AWS, and Alexa for this project. We used AWS to store music files and a JSON file for the language model for Alexa. The code that did the grunt work was the serverless AWS lambda function. It was my first time coding in Python and everyone's first time working with Amazon Alexa, so we definitely had a lot of challenges getting everything set up and debugging. Thanks to the really helpful mentors and teamwork, we ended up with something that we could demo!

Additional Thoughts

We recognize that this project ended in an early phase. Future steps that we thought of include using a search API to find ingredients in a given food, using image recognition to identify food, incorporating other sensory stimuli with lighting and color, and adding the other flavors (sour, salty, umami).

[Final Note]: It's bittersweet to look back at this project as an awesome learning experience, but I am super excited to graduate! Congrats to all of the other graduates out there!!

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